How Marketers Can Thrive with the Hybrid Facebook News Feed and EdgeRank
The dust is beginning to settle from the mixed user reactions to the revamp Facebook did to its News Feed a month ago. The changes have far-reaching implications for marketers who communicate with their customers on the platform.
This development has led Digital EYE Media to ramp up its services to clients in the area of Facebook News Feed and EdgeRank optimization.
The News Feed — the center column of a home page — is a constantly updating list of stories from people and Pages that users follow on Facebook.
In September, Facebook redesigned the home page to merge the “Top News” and “Most Recent” feeds into a single “hybrid” News Feed.
The primary feature of the hybrid News Feed is “Top Stories.” Instead of asking users to choose between “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” links, the new News Feed adjusts content based on the last time a user checked it. Users who rarely log in, for instance, see
top stories from their networks. More frequent users see recent content in chronological order.
Brands now need to create much stickier content in order not to be “optimized out” by the user. While this has always been a primary aim for smart brands marketing on the platform, it’s going to become even harder to maintain consistent “share of voice” in the News Feed as users begin to exercise these opt-out and opt-lite features.
So, what’s the prognosis?
First, let’s talk about EdgeRank.
On Facebook, the term “Edges” refers to anything you share on the site, including a status update, a photo, a link, a Like, etc.
EdgeRank is the name used for Facebook’s algorithm that decides what will be shown on your News Feed after you login. This compares to the far more familiar Google PageRank, which is part of Google`s software that decides what will be shown as a result of a
(Both these algorithms share one aspect in common– the details of how they work are kept secret.)
EdgeRank is an algorithm that ranks objects in the Facebook News Feed. Pages with high EdgeRank scores will be more
likely than Pages with low EdgeRank scores to show up in the News Feed.
EdgeRank is made up of three variables: Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay.
— Affinity is dependent on a user’s relationship with an object in the News Feed.
— Weight is determined by the type of object, such as a photo/video/link/etc.
— Time Decay means that the older an object gets, the lower becomes its value.
EdgeRank is so important to marketers that it has given rise to independent services like EdgeRank Checker, a Facebook Page analytics provider. EdgeRank Checker has even developed its own EdgeRank algorithm to help Page Admins understand how their Page interacts with the News Feed.
According to a recent EdgeRank Checker study, subsequent to Facebook’s recent changes to the News Feed, Pages are currently receiving 21 percent more comments and nine percent more Likes, though 25 percent fewer impressions per post.
These results should come as good news to most marketers, especially direct marketers looking to drive more click throughs to their products.
However, the reduction in Page post impressions since the introduction of the hybrid News Feed could hurt some institutional marketers optimizing for exposure or brand lift rather than direct conversions.
EdgeRank Checker based its findings on metrics pulled from a sample size of more than 3,500 Facebook Pages during two weeks before the changes (9/3-9/17) and two weeks after the changes (9/24-10/8). The time frame is still too short for the study to be totally authoritative, and it will take a few more months before users and Page admins become accustomed to the change.
(Recall that the loudest protest in Facebook’s history came in 2006 with the launch of News Feed–which has turned into one of the site’s most popular features.)
Still, these figures should ease worries that the changes would drastically reduce engagement with Page posts. The findings should also help admins adjust their Page publishing strategy for maximum impact.
EdgeRank Checker supports the idea that the redesign and improvements to the News Feed sorting algorithm have made Facebook’s EdgeRank more focused.
Translation: highly compelling updates are receiving more visibility than ever before.
Previously, a Page post that received a high volume of Likes and comments still wouldn’t be seen if a user logged on a day or two after it was published.
Now, with Top Stories, users see all the most relevant updates that were published since they last checked the News Feed.
As a result, the first stories in the News Feed are now likely to be of a higher quality than they were before, leading users to leave more Likes and comments. This sort of feedback raises a Page’s EdgeRank, which gives certain posts more visibility in the future.
So, its more important than ever for marketers to take the time to craft highly compelling updates that draw lots of Likes and comments.
Since it’s now easier than ever to form groups of friends whose content you want surfaced in your News Feed, the challenge for brands is to become and remain top-of-mind and relevant enough to make the list. It’s more important than ever to refine your messaging and
content strategy so that fans add you to one or more of their lists.